Posted by Fernando Delgado
UPDATE: Spain’s Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo) convicted Judge Baltasar Garzón of abuse of authority (prevaricación) in the “Gürtel” case last Thursday in connection with wiretapping ordered during a corruption investigation involving the current ruling party of Spain. The sentence subjects Garzón to an 11-year ban from the judicial bench. Following the court’s pronouncement, a poll commissioned by leading Spanish daily El País showed a whopping 61% of the Spanish public thought Garzón was being subjected to persecution (“[e]sta siendo objeto de una persecución”), compared with only 36% who felt there were legitimate bases upon which to judge him (“[h]abia motivos suficientes para juzgarle”).
Yesterday, some 2000 protestors gathered in front of the Tribunal Supremo chanting “Shame! Justice!” Garzón’s legal team raised the possibility of bringing a case before the European Court of Human Rights in light of the Gürtel ruling.
Under Spanish law, Garzón has no right to appeal the Gürtel decision, except on limited constitutional grounds in an amparo filing. Spain’s failure to provide for a regular appeals process in certain criminal cases has previously been found to be a violation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (see paragraph 47 of General Comment 32 of the United Nations Human Rights Committee).
Today, the Tribunal Supremo dismissed the remaining charges against Garzón in a separate case involving bribery allegations. The court has yet to rule on the most notorious case of the bunch, in which Garzón is being prosecuted for investigating Franco-era human rights violations. The same poll commissioned by El País showed 77% of the Spanish public felt Garzón’s investigation of crimes by Franco agents “could not be considered a crime,” (“no puede ser considerado un delito”) contrasted with only 18% who thought Garzón should be convicted in that case as well.